Thursday, January 10th 2019

Catering to Salt Lake City in 2018

When I was a kid, I remember sitting at the dinner table each Sunday and playing Rose and Thorn with my family. In essence, this game is a conversational strategy to get people to reflect on one “rose” (the favorite part of their week) and one “thorn” (the hardest part of the week). While reviewing the year that Utah Food Services just had, I was reminded of this game and started thinking about my rose and thorn in regards to the year we just had. All in all, 2018 was a great year for Utah Food Services that brought many opportunities and learning experiences. I had the chance to talk to our catering team members to identify some connecting rose and thorn perspectives throughout our departments.

In order to pull off the largest events in the state, meticulous planning, flexibility, compromise, and teamwork are critical. As one of Utah Food Services busiest years, 2018 was no exception to this rule. This understanding helped illuminate and identify a connecting rose and thorn for Utah Food Services.

Our Rose?

Teamwork and comradery. The end of the year is especially busy for our catering team. The constant flow of private events and celebrations creates an around the clock operational schedule. Our catering team is constantly tailoring events to each individual client in order to make them special while overcoming logistical challenges. One example was presented on a particularly busy Saturday in December. Catering nine major holiday parties spread out across our three facilities, our Salt Lake City Catering team served food and libations to over 8,400 guests. Needless to say, these events called for all hands on deck. Through recruiting and utilizing our networks we rallied the troops, gathered the supplies, and executed fabulous events. Tiffany Sutton, Director of Sales noted,

“It’s really heartwarming to see how everyone comes together to pull off a large number of events at the same time. On nights like this, we rely on our friends and family to come to help us –  from making sandwiches to polishing silverware & setting guest tables, filling bread baskets, transporting equipment to and from events, and plating up entrees. We also have community & school groups that come in to help, as well as staff that came out of retirement to provide extra assistance. I saw our CFO jump in and help bartend when one bar got busy, I also saw our décor team tending bar, our office managers working side by side with chefs to help plate salads, and family members coming in late at night to help wash dishes. I think that nights like these really showcase our team’s unity and the resulting camaraderie of working side by side.”

-Tiffany Sutton, Director of Sales

 

Without a good team, a catering company is just a melting pot of food and equipment with marginal service. Catering in Salt Lake City has always meant so much more to Utah Food Services, it is about sharing our passion for food, event design, and friendship. Dan Joyce, General Manager recalled,

 

“Those Saturday night Christmas parties were awe inspiring. To provide a memorable experience for that many people requires considerable coordination. The flow of information and overall communication was astonishing to watch. The result was fantastic holiday celebrations across each of our locations.”

   -Dan Joyce, General Manager

 

Our Thorn?

Sourcing enough staff. The elevated business levels that we experienced in 2018 highlighted an opportunity to better engage and enable our community partners. One of Utah Food Services’ pillars of strength is our sincere commitment to our community. Blooming business levels created a new challenge for our team: finding staff that is both qualified and available to help.

 

There are times when our responsibilities to our clients require extending beyond our core staff and receiving outside help. We have found success in the past by partnering with various clubs and organizations seeking to raise funds for their different programs. Some of our long term partners include, the Good Sams, The Mountain Jubilee Chorus, The Utah DeMolay, the Glover Girls Greece Trip 2020, the World Trekkers 2020, the University of Utah Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers , and the first and second year students in SLCC’s dental hygiene program. Ellen Dela Cruz, our Facility and Accounts Receivable Manager, outlined the challenge with our previous model:

“I love working with our groups; their excitement is contagious as they come to work with us in order to make money for their next exciting adventure.  It’s usually a really great experience for them and for Utah Food Services employees as well. As members progress out of their program we find ourselves in a position of looking for new groups to come in and help. The trouble is finding enough of them to sustain what our business needs, especially when business is booming.”

In reflecting on this issue, Chief Financial Officer, Kerry Sullivan, stated:

“I want us to get in front of this and be proactive instead of reactive. There are a lot of good programs out there who could use another fundraising outlet and it would be really great to partner with them. Partnerships of this kind will help us prepare for the busy months and help them work toward their financial goals.”

In order to better address this opportunity, our HR Director, Karie McRae has taken a proactive approach by attending job fairs at local high schools and colleges and by researching new methods of contacting clubs and organizations to gauge interest. UFS plans on a very prosperous 2019 so if you have any suggestions on a team that may be interested in partnering with our Utah Catering team in the future, please reach out to Karie McRae at karie@utahfoodservices.com.

 

Emma Farr, Marketing Manager at Utah Food Services
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